Mughals, Sultans, embroidery and marble.

The best guided tour I’ve been on.

Up Your Street engaged Mrs Patricia Williams, recent student at Birkbeck Art and History Faculty, to guide us around Room 40, The Nehru Gallery at the V&A.  She, a subscriber to Up Your Street, is passionate about what’s what in that Gallery and has studied each sword, each tent-hanging and each sandstone pillar  in depth. She is a woman of passion.

The tour started off by her leading us through the reconstructed palace entrance into the serenity of a temple interior. “Look up! Always look up!” she’d repeat because another facet she explained to us was the purpose of an art museum. “What is the purpose? Look at the carvings, the suspended roof, the light through the lattice of geometrical designs. See how your eye is persuaded to follow the white wall to the next emerald or hard stone.”

Other people joined our group because Pat was fascinating in her descriptions, always linking into other pieces of public knowledge. For example we’d all heard of The Taj Mahal and like a seasoned storyteller, Pat told us about the young Persian princess who died whilst giving birth to her fourteenth child. Blimey! Then I came back to 2014 to the V&A and remembered how decades ago Mrs Savage next door on the estate had thirteen live births and Mrs Davies had eleven. Mum had nine.

The emphasis was on wars, power , and The East India Company. The spice route was the goal: forget the diamond mines. Everyone wanted to control that route. The fascination was in the way each Mughal and sultan of every empire gelled Hindu. Moslem, Jain and  Christian facets and influences leading to floral designs on chintz, Jesus stories in manuscripts, wall-hangings depicting pilgrimages and so much more yet to explore.

Everyone agreed that Patricia had inspired us . Everyone wants to return.

We spent money then on a nice cup of hot chocolate in the café across the pool.


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